Happy Cuban Sandwich Day! Remember the 11-million Cubans who absolutely, positively can’t ever eat one

From our Bureau of Native Cuisine Unavailable to Natives with some assistance from our Bureau of Eternal Disagreements Over Sandwich Ingredients

Hey, if you have a Cuban sandwich today, keep in mind that none of its ingredients are available to the vast majority of Cubans on the island. The same ironic twist also surrounds the Mojito, but since that world-famous drink has far fewer ingredients, its symbolic value as an icon of Cuba’s destruction by Castro, Inc. is not as potent.

August 23 is Cuban Sandwich Day here in the U.S.A., where the sandwich began to increase in popularity about two decades ago.

Did it originate in Tampa, among Cuban exiles, as many claim? Is there such as thing as Cuban Sandwich heresy, that is, can the use of some ingredients invalidate the genuineness of the sandwich? If so, which ingredient is the most heretical and offensive? Chicken? Fish? Mexican salsa? Peanut butter? Cream cheese? Fake vegan “meat”?

Want to start a small-scale civil war? Cram at least 500 Cubans into large ballroom and ask them to vote on who makes the best Cuban Sandwich.

I can’t really savor the damn thing on its national or any other day of the year, since I’m a vegetarian. But, oh, Lord have mercy, Cuban sandwiches are one of the few food items I miss the most. They tempt me the same way a great single-malt Scotch whisky might tempt a recovering alcoholic.

One of my fondest childhood memories is eating my very first Cuban Sandwich, served at Monte Carlo, a bar and eatery about two or three blocks from my house. It wasn’t called a Cuban Sandwich. It was a “Medianoche” (midnight), a name that suggested forbidden pleasures, such as eating big sandwiches at midnight at a bar or nightclub, something reserved for adults only. My bedtime was around 8 or 9 pm, so eating a midnight sandwich for lunch seemed extra thrilling.

Ay! Nowadays hardly any Cuban child will ever enjoy a similar thrill on the island, and neither will any adult, or any “anciano” (oldster) who can remember what no longer exists for them and is reserved strictly for tourists and privileged Cubans who are oligarchs or receive remittances from the “diaspora.”

Gracias por todo, Fidel!

1 thought on “Happy Cuban Sandwich Day! Remember the 11-million Cubans who absolutely, positively can’t ever eat one”

Leave a Comment